Cary 'Santa' could face more charges
Posted January 12, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — A 70-year-old Cary man who refers to himself as "Santa John" could face more charges after his arrest Wednesday on several child sex charges.
John Thomas Peters, of 113 Crestpoint Court, is accused of having inappropriate conversations with a 15-year-old girl on the Internet.
He is charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devices to commit an unlawful sex act and dissemination of obscene material to a minor under the age of 16 years.
Capt. Ann Stephens, of the Apex Police Department, said Thursday that detectives are still investigating Peters and looking closer at computers he used.
Peters was initially placed in the Wake County jail under a $1 million bond, but during a first court appearance Thursday, District Judge Robert Rader lowered it to $600,000. Should he make bail, he was ordered not to have contact with any children and not to use social media.
The 15-year-old's mother claims Peters, who is known for portraying Santa Claus at malls and holiday events, started talking with her daughter on Dec. 29, sent her pornographic pictures and said he wanted to have sex with her.
The mother contacted authorities and worked with police to lure him to a meeting at an Apex McDonald's, where undercover officers arrested him.
On a Facebook page linked to the name and email address that the girl's mother said Peters was using indicates that the user says he is an amateur photographer looking for models to photograph.
He has 158 friends – all are girls and young women with the exception of one man. The page contains provocative pictures of several girls and young women.
Neighbors in Peters' Cary neighborhood described him as a jolly, friendly and kind retiree of IBM and said they wouldn't suspect him of ever being charged in a crime.
In a profile that was on the website Wednesday of Triangle Santa Buddies, Peters referred to himself as "Santa John," saying he often drives around in a red convertible sports car with the tag "SantaCar."
According to the profile, which has since been removed, he said he also worked at stores, greeting and interacting with children.
WRAL News has learned that Peters played Santa for several years at the Christmas party for Hospice of Wake County.
At least one parent of children who interacted with Peters said she is now concerned.
A Raleigh woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said her 5-year-old daughter met him as Santa in December.
"I just got sick," she said of when she recognized Peters from his mug shot. "If it is valid, I have to wonder how long it has gone on."